The field for the 146th Kentucky Oaks was out this morning in the rain getting in a routine jog or gallop while some schooled in the paddock.
BAYERNESS–Belladonna Racing’s Bayerness arrived in Barn 43 Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.Bayerness will be first starter in the Kentucky Oaks for trainer Cherie DeVaux.
DONNA VELOCE–Kaleem Shah, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Donna Veloce jogged a mile along side a pony with John Stock aboard Thursday morning in the rain.Carlos Santamaria, assistant to trainer Simon Callaghan, said Donna Veloce would go to the track to train in the morning around 5:30.
Training hours Friday and Saturday are 5:15-8 with the 5:15-5:30 window reserved for Derby and Oaks horses. Donna Veloce will be making her first start in nearly six months and Santamaria has hopes for how the 1 1/8-mile race will unfold.“She will sit behind the speed,” Santamaria said. “I am pretty sure there will be two or three maybe four horses (vying for the lead) and we will lay four or five lengths off. Then we will make a run on the outside and hope the speed stops.”
DREAM MARIE–Delaware Oaks (GIII) runner-up DreamMarie walked the shedrow Thursday morning, which is her normal pre race preparations according to her 24-year-old trainer Matthew Williams, who has been training for two years.Williams is a native of Kingston, Jamaica, where his grandfather owns a stud farm and is a champion breeder. He trains the Graydar filly on behalf of his family’s Miracle’s International Trading Inc.
GAMINE–Taking to the track at 9 a.m., Michael Lund Petersen’s Gamine, the even-money, morning line favorite for the Kentucky Oaks, put in her final routine gallop under Humberto Gomez on Thursday as she aims to give trainer Bob Baffert his fourth win in the signature race for 3-year-old fillies. Should the daughter of Into Mischief prevail Friday, it would mark the first time Baffert has won the Oaks with the favorite since Silverbulletday achieved that feat in 1999.
“I thought (champion) Indian Blessing was brilliant but this filly, what she’s done is amazing,” Baffert said of Gamine. “Her Acorn (an 18 ¾-length win) was….I did not expect that. And in the Test, she was probably training even better heading into that. She’s doing well. We’ll see how far she can carry that speed.”Gamine heads into the Oaks have captured the Acorn (GI) and Test Stakes (GI) in her past two outings by a combined 25 ¾ lengths. Should her brilliance carry her to victory in the Oaks, she would also put Baffert in position to become the first trainer to notch the Oaks-Derby double since Ben Jones achieved the feat in 1952.
Baffert has two entrants in the Kentucky Derby with Grade 1 winner Authentic and multiple graded stakes winner Thousand Words.“Right now, I’m just trying to get them there,” Baffert said.
“I took baby steps with (Gamine). Now that she’s done what she’s done, her resume looks great. She just needs to add the Oaks and that would be the cherry on top.”Petersen purchased Gamine for $1.8 million out of the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds Training Sale and a win Friday would make her the highest-priced Oaks winner sold at public auction since Rags to Riches–a $1.9 million yearling purchase –was victorious in 2007.
“She’s just a real elegant looking filly, a lot of leg on her,” Baffert said. “She looked like a queen (at the sale). We call her Queen Gamine. You don’t know how they’re going to pan out but once we started working with her, she showed right off the bat that she was going to be something special. But I had trouble getting her (entered in a race) because everybody knew about her at Santa Anita. It took me a month to get her in. Every time I entered her, they knew she was in there.”
HOPEFUL GROWTH–St. Elias Stable’s Monmouth Oaks (GIII) winner Hopeful Growth had her first trip over the Churchill Downs surface Thursday under the watchful eye of Dale Romans, who is deputizing for trainer Anthony Margotta. Romans reported that the filly has been doing well since arriving Wednesday from her Monmouth Park base.
SHEDARESTHEDEVIL–Qatar Racing, Flurry Racing and Big Aut Farm’s Shedaresthedevil galloped an easy 1 ½ miles with Edvin Vargas in the boot for trainer Brad Cox.
SPEECH–Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Madaket Stables and Heider Family Stable’s Speech galloped a little more than a mile under exercise rider Osman Cedeno.Trainer Michael McCarthy will have Javier Castellano aboard Speech Friday for the third time following a victory in the Ashland (GI) and a victory via disqualification at Oaklawn Park.
“I am looking for a clean break and let Javier take it from there,” McCarthy said.
SWISS SKYDIVER–Returning to her regular routine, PeterJ. Callahan’s multiple stakes winner Swiss Skydiver galloped 1 ½ miles over a sloppy track Thursday at 5:30 a.m. The Daredevil filly had been coming out with the other Oaks fillies during the special 7:30 training time, but trainer Kenny McPeek said the filly prefers going out early and prior to this week always went out in the first or second set.
TEMPERS RISING–Mark and Nancy Stanley’s Tempers Rising had a scheduled walk day for trainer Dallas Stewart.“I always like to walk her before she runs,” Stewart said.